The Agonizing Collision Of Love And Slavery In ‘Thomas Jefferson’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-07-03 01:04Z by Steven

The Agonizing Collision Of Love And Slavery In ‘Thomas Jefferson’

Book Reviews
National Public Radio

Jean Zimmerman

Did Thomas Jefferson dream of his enslaved concubine, Sally Hemings? No one knows. Jefferson himself never wrote a word about his constant companion of almost 40 years. But author Stephen O’Connor gives us a brave and wondrous dream of a novel that renders the fraught subject of their relationship a fascinating, complex and ultimately extremely addictive tale. At the core of O’Connor’s Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings lies a conundrum: How could the author of five words that shook the world — all men are created equal — keep his lover enslaved for decades?

Little is known of Hemings, while Jefferson is — after Lincoln — perhaps the most well documented of any figure in American history. She was the daughter of a slave and a Southern planter, the cousin of the two children whom she served at Monticello and who bore a spooky resemblance to their mother, Jefferson’s late wife. Begun when she was an adolescent, the affair lasted a lifetime, and despite the liberty-espousing statesman’s acute criticism of slavery, he never freed Sally Hemings. Together they produced four living children, who were also born into slavery, but freed upon Jefferson’s death — the only slave family so liberated by him…

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